Lemon Vanilla Creme Brûlée!


I love Creme Brûlée and am excited about showing you that Creme Brûlée is accessible, even for a beginner in the kitchen. This dessert recipe is found in my cookbook “Seasonal Favorites from The Organic Kitchen Cookbook: Spring/ Summer Menus”. 

Lemon Vanilla Creme Brûlée

Creme Brûlée may sound intimidating but it’s actually easy to make! There are only a few ingredients, cream, sugar, egg yolks and in this case lemon zest and vanilla paste. Here are a few tips to make the process go smoothly. 

Lemon Vanilla Creme Brûlée

Prepare Ingredients Before you Begin

Creme Brûlée cooks very quickly so you want all items measured out and prepared before you start.  

Zesting Citrus:

I use a  microplane (affiliate link) to zest citrus. When zesting citrus, only scrape the very outer surface of the fruit. The white layer underneath is bitter. As soon as the white is exposed, move to a new area.


The Vanilla Paste:

The combination of fresh zest and vanilla is lovely! I always use the amazing Nielsen Massey vanilla paste (affiliate link) instead of extract. Paste is more flavorful than extract without the overwhelming alcohol taste. And it contains vanilla bean flecks that are visible in the creme brûlée making it looks even prettier. But you are welcome to use extract.


This is the only tricky part about making creme brûlée and it’s called ‘tempering’. If you follow the directions in the recipe below you will be fine, but I just want to explain the concept. 

Lemon Vanilla Creme BrûléeAfter heating the cream, if you were to add it to the eggs all at once the eggs would cook and curdle. To avoid this you ‘temper’ by slowly adding a small amount of cream to eggs and mixing in between additions. This prevents curdling by warming the eggs slowly while simultaneously cooling the cream.

Lemon Vanilla Creme Brûlée

The Bain Marie or Water Bath:

Bain Marie means ‘water bath’ in french. This helps the Creme Brûlée cook evenly. Place ramekins in a glass baking dish and add 1″ of water to dish. Cook the Creme Brûlée only until sides are set and the center is still jiggly, usually about 25 minutes but this can vary depending on the size ramekin you use. Because ramekins stay hot after removal from the oven the Creme Brûlée continues to cook. If you wait till the centers are firm to remove from the oven you dessert will be over cooked. That’s it! Easy right?

Lemon Vanilla Creme Brûlée

Tip #4 ~ How to make a ‘bain marie’ (water bath):  put ramekins in a large glass baking dish and add about an inch of water. This helps the Creme Brûlée cook evenly.

Tip #5 ~Bake the Creme Brûlée only until sides are set and centers still jiggle, this usually takes about 25 minutes. Cooking time will vary depending what size ramekins you use. Because  ramekins remain hot after removal from the oven the Creme Brûlée continues to cook. If you wait till the centers are firm, it will be overcooked.  These colorful Le Creuscet ramekins are available here (affiliate link)

The Final Touch!

Now you decide on the finishing touch. You can torch (affiliate link) sugar for that crispy top or simply top with berries or a twisted slice of citrus! If you choose to torch sugar here is how you do it…

Lemon Vanilla Creme Brûlée

After cooling Creme Brûlée in refrigerator for three hours, spoon a thin layer of Caster or baker’s sugar on top.

Lemon Vanilla Creme Brûlée

Hold torch a few inches from sugar and move in a circular motion till sugar starts to melt. Keep moving the torch or you will burn the sugar.

Lemon Vanilla Creme Brûlée

Whichever way you choose to top it, this dessert will be delicious! Your friends are going to be so impressed!

The Recipe: Lemon Vanilla Creme Brûlée

You will need:  ramekins (mine are 6oz), vanilla paste, microplane (for zesting) and a large glass baking dish. (affiliate links)


Lemon Vanilla Creme Brûlée




Yield 6 -8


  • 8 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar (or super fine baker’s sugar)
  • 2 ¼ cups heavy whipping cream
  • Zest from three lemons
  • 2 tsp vanilla paste (or 2 tsp extract but I highly recommend paste!) Raspberries, a lemon slice, or torched caster sugar for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 350. Place rack in bottom 1/3 of oven to prevent browning. Place ramekins in a glass baking dish and set aside.
  2. Separate eggs.
  3. Whisk together egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl (preferably with a pouring spout)
  4. Set aside.
  5. Zest lemons. Set aside.
  6. Pour cream into a pot (rounded bottom if you have one) Turn on high heat. Watch closely.
  7. As soon as bubbles form on the sides and center is steaming, immediately turn off heat.
  8. Now add zest and vanilla to cream. Stir well.
  9. Temper: Add cream mixture one ladle full at a time to bowl with eggs/sugar mixture.
  10. Stir well between additions.
  11. This is called 'tempering'. When all cream is stirred into eggs pour into ramekins filling them 2/3 full. Depending on the size of the ramekins you use, this recipe should make 6-8 servings.
  12. Make a water bath or 'bain Marie' by pouring water into a baking till water is about an inch deep.
  13. Set ramekins in the baking dish. Bake for 25-30 or until the center of the jiggles but the sides are firm. Do not over cook as this dessert will continue to cook in the ramekins once it is removed from the oven.
  14. Once cooled, cover and place in refrigerator for three hours (although...I love it warm! You just can't make the crispy sugar top till completely cooled:)
  15. You can now either sprinkle with super fine sugar and torch or top with berries.

Courses Dessert


Lemon Vanilla Creme Brûlée


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Post tags: dessert, custard, pudding


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